“To be a warrior is not a simple matter of wishing to be one. It is rather an endless struggle that will go on to the very last moment of our lives. Nobody is born a warrior, in exactly the same way that nobody is born a reasonable being. We make ourselves into one or the other.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Douglas Rushkoff at SXSW 2016

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I have been following Douglas Rushkoff since his launch of the TeamHuman podcast. I recommend it very much. This talk is a good introduction to his work.

The main thing I like about him is that he builds a good bridge between two worlds that in my existence seem separate. The people in my life can be clearly divided into two camps:

  1. One is the “mainstream people” which includes people who live a mainstream life and people who are aware that there are other avenues, but do not pursue it … so still living embedded in mainstream society. When I can and there is an interest I try to give these people a glimpse of the other alternative world I am exploring.
  2. The other group are the “alternative people” who are partners in the exploration-into-an-unknown  I find myself living in. Some of these people are also comfortably embedded in this alternative world that they are sometimes less informed about the happenings of the mainstream world.

Douglas Rushkoff, I feel, does an excellent job of bridging these worlds. He is able to describe both the mainstream world and the alternatives in a coherent, sensible and continuous narrative that makes it accessible to both of “my worlds”. With that in mind I offer this excellent talk to both of “my worlds”:

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Vata in Software

n

Though I have moved away from the more hard-core environment of software development I still enjoyed this talk very much. It talks about something which can look inconsequential – software versions and its effect on software creation. The subject, though technical, is framed in this talk as a matter of relationship amongst developers.

There are very few people with whom I can chat about the two worlds of Yoga and Software (because very few people that I know have / had a foot in both worlds). What shimmered for me in this talk is the quality of vata (shity and volatile energy) which I feel is so much a part of software development. It is mostly my wish to stay healthy while respecting my own energy patterns that keeps me away from writing code. This talk sheds some light on the vata nature of software.

The presenter is Rich Hickley who is the founder of a programming paradigm language called Clojure:

Posted in Intellect Run Amok, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Charles Eisenstein In Conversation with Rupert Sheldrake

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An inspiring listen … feed your soul with some heart-flavored meta-science:

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Thank you Ramona, Attila, Raluca and Derek for Nyeleni

n

It doesn’t seem like I’ll be writing in depth about my experience at the Nyeleni Europe conference. I have much to say, but I am not motivated to say it … and this post from another participant does a good job of touching on some (not all) of the subjects that resonated inside me.

However, one thing has persisted in me … and I do want to express my gratitude to Ramona, Attila, Raluca and Derek and the interns of EcoRuralis who together with the volunteers that surrounded them made it possible for me to partake in and witness such an event. This was possible for me because 1) the event was held here in Cluj (I would not have travelled for it) and 2) they invited me to be part of the Romanian delegation.

I do not consider myself an activist and I am always grateful for the inclusiveness and embrace I feel from the EcoRuralis team, both personally and in the context of Cutia Taranului. This feeling was with me from first meeting them almost 6 years ago (by randomly walking into their office) and was amplified against the backdrop of the Nyeleni conference. The voice of Nyeleni, as it manifested in this conference, was one of extreme, loud and painfully aggressive activism. It made me appreciate the qualities of moderation, reason and humility of the EcoRuralis team. Encountering them personally during the event created small islands of sanity.

Given that I live in semi-retreat, for me the event was a precious opportunity to witness what activism in Europe looks like (at least around food sovereignity). It was inspiring to see so many people come together around a shared interest, especially given the efforts that I imagine went into everyone converging on Cluj together. It was inspiring to know that this subject is in the consciousness of so many people across Europe (and beyond). It was impressive to realize the large populace that was represented in this forum … given that almost every person present at the conference represented anywhere from tens to thousands (and more!?) of people in their repective countries and communities. It was impressive to sense how a basic need like food can cut through cultural differences and become a shared and uniting thread.

It was also impressive (though in a different tone) to see the ease with which failed constructs in our current governing structures are subtly replicated in activist circles that want to introduce change. I feel we have much to learn and practice in coming and being together before we can take on complicated subjects such as food sovereignity. I do not feel “we” have earned the right to use that word “we” as obviously as some may want to. To make this point more concrete I want to give this small, recent and concrete example.

In the weeks following the event we were contacted by the Crisan family who have since joined Cutia Taranului with a special (sold out) Christmas box and a few variants of meat boxes that will start to be delivered in January. Their farm has been shrinking and collapsing (and they’ve had to take on office jobs for income) because they haven’t been able to market their produce … hopefully that will change now. Both we as Cutia Taranului (who are looking for local producers to bring to market) and the Crisan family (a producer that was looking to find a market) are members of EcoRuralis and yet we did not find each other and connect.

If we did not connect and come together when we were so near and so relevant to each other within a clear and shared context, how can we expect to collaborate on larger (national, European, or international) scales? I do not say this with a sense of blame. I offer it as a sobering observation (firstly to myself), a reality check to what I felt was an illusory sense of community that was conjured up at Nyeleni. I recognize and appreciate that we want to be community, but a group of people shouting demands together with fists in the air does not create community (its sad and scary).

YET … the fact that I was able to travel to the city for 5 consecutive days and be around more then 500 other people was a good sign. It told me that beneath the superficial manifestations lay something potent and valuable. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been there and to have witnessed it. Now, on with connecting producers and eaters … and hopefully a warm winter next to the rocket stove 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Government as a Platform

n

This may seem slightly off-topic, but for me there is some valuable cross-over of ideas and domains that do relate to Oameni.

This is a presentation by Tom Loosemore about his work in the UK Government Digital Strategy during the 2015 Code for America summit. In it he describes an architectural view of a government that harnesses digital technology.

My main reflection during and after it was:

  1. Can something like this be built from the groundup – grassroots style. Given that governments are not likely to get there very soon, is this not something that civil society can create for itself and then provide to the government as a tool of governance?
  2. Can something like this be built with a view that goes beyond the national … I’m thinking as a planetary platform?
  3. Can something like this be built as open-source packages that can be instantiated many times in many countries / contexts? After all if something like this is good for one country or city, then it must be good for other countries / cities. Can we, as a species, be smart and efficient about how we go about creating this? Can “creating a government infrastructure” strive to be as simple as creating a WordPress site?

Some thoughts I wanted to capture from this presentation:

“New public infrastructure requires new public institutions.”

The guidelines within which this vision was developed:

“The public has expectations:

  1. Services so good they were previously unimaginable.
  2. Services which work first time in real time.
  3. New services set up in weeks, and run at fraction of today’s cost.
  4. Ministers can see if their policy is working as intended within days or weeks, not decades.
  5. Those on the front line can focus their effort on supporting those who need help the most.
  6. Fraud to be “designed out”; Security to be “baked in”; Defences against both evolve to meet emerging threats.
  7. Services to be highly responsive to feedback from their users.
  8. Accountability should be crystal clear & people able to give instant democractic feedback.
  9. Services should only use “just enough” personal data; The citizen should be in control of how and when their data is accessed.
  10. Open public data is canonical, infrastructural, and immutable; Services use open standards and create open standards.
  11. Services should gracefully span local, central and devolved governments … provided the user consents.
  12. Policies and rules that are visible as code, and you can validate them as a citizen.
  13. Everything is available through an API for 3rd party use … provided the user grants permission, and it’s secure.”

And this architectural view which is explained in the presentations:

governmentasplatform

Also worth checking out these Design Principles

Keep tabs on Richard Pope and James Stewart

Posted in AltEco, Business, Community, Design, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment